You can’t call this a game-changer, but the U.S. Postal Service’s inspector general is offering some indirect support for the mail carrier’s plans to close more than half of its mail processing plants.
In a newly released round-up, the IG’s office pulled together audits of 32 previous area mail processing consolidations and found that 31 had a valid business case. Those business cases “were supported by adequate capacity, increased efficiency, reduced work hours and mail processing costs, and improved service standards,” the roundup says. The IG’s office did note, however, that four of the 31 consolidations were poorly executed and recommended that the Postal Service improve communications with stakeholders.
For USPS executives, the findings nonetheless offer evidence that they know what they’re doing in pushing to close up to 252 of about 461 remaining processing facilities. That plan, which would erase some 28,000 jobs, has sparked a torrent of opposition from postal workers and politicians. Last week, Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, became one of the latest members of Congress to go on record against the proposed downsizing.
“This plan has profoundly negative implications for timely and reliable mail service in northern, western and eastern Maine, a geographically vast and rural area of our state,” Snowe said in a news release after visiting an eastern Maine processing and distribution facility that employs 183 people and is slated for consolidation with another plant.
According to Snowe, the consolidation is supposed to save $7.6 million. But in the release, she declared herself “unpersuaded.” She is convinced, however, that it would “disproportionately slow down mail delivery to rural areas of Maine.”
Sentiments like that prompted the Postal Service last month to freeze closings of all processing plants and post offices until mid-May, although studies will proceed. As part of the downsizing, the mail carrier is also pursuing a change in service standards that will drop overnight delivery of some first-class mail.